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Sunday, April 03, 2011

JGB: September 19, 1975, Crabshaw Corner, Sacramento, CA

Thanks to Corry for answering my query on January 26, 1976 which also included a question about 11/4/78.

Before starting my post, I  just want to take a second to recognize Corry's role in Garcia historiography. He has been not only an essential bridge across different documents (Soto, McNally) and traditions (from handwritten lists to here), but obviously provided a ton of what we know about the everyday JGB shows through his careful documentation of the phone messages.  These and countless other facts have made their way to the present time through Corry's initial hard work, then his sharing of everything with Deadbase, then the Jerry Site. Fantastic. I really started getting crazy about this stuff in about 2000, and The Jerry Site was already available. I now realize how utterly dependent that amazing site always has been on Corry's earlier work. (And while I am at it, thank you, Ryan. The Jerry Site has been the oxygen of my own researches.) (And thanks to Scofield and Allan as well, for their unbelieveable scholarship and generosity.)

Anyway, that said. From where does the listing for Jerry Garcia Band, Friday, September 19, 1975, Crabshaw Corner, Sacramento, CA originate?

This is a really important show in the Big Picture.

We actually know very little about how Garcia's 1975 bands were born and passed from the scene. We are still struggling with basics about Legion of Mary such as "when was the fist show billed under the name Legion of Mary?", and "Why and how did LOM terminate abruptly on ca. July 6, 1975?"  Then, we have this band: the very first Jerry side band to bear his name, a crucial transformation of the thing from fun and loose and "maybe-I-can-just-jam-while-staying-partly-anonymous" to "I need cash and have to monetize my name and myself to do it."

We know that Round Records was a serious and risky financial investment for for Garcia. (For more, a bit earlier on Round Records, see here. We have a lot of work to do on that issue.)  In September 1975, following the dates on Scofield's Round Records discography (which needs some corrections, but is a precious resource), it seems like they would have been digesting "sales numbers" (which may have had only tenuous connection to either "sales" or "numbers") and seeing the oncoming failure of the company, which I guess would be digested fully by December 1975. I'd like a cleaner timeline on that, but that's what I've got.

Might this business aspect have led to the various band changes that happen in this period of time?

Conjecture 1: there was an analysis suggesting that less money could be made working with Merl than with Nicky.
Conjecture 2: Merl's personal issues around this time maybe make it an easier moment to part ways with him.
Conjecture 3: Nicky Hopkins, Ron Tutt, John Kahn as The Jerry Garcia Band (with a definite article, i.e., meant to last) was foreseen as a possible permanent recording and touring entity. Think about the records one could make with this Band: the world's greatest rock and roll Session Man (Nicky Hopkins); a session monster in his own right and backbone of The King's own band, fer chrissakes  (Ronnie Tutt); your DNA-level musical, personal, professional and financial partner who brings lots of LA connections, studio players and resources, production expertise, and financial resources into the picture (John Kahn).

Now, we know that it didn't work out that way - in short, Nicky's personal situation made untenable, whatever the musical promise and problems of this aggregation (of which I think, perhaps, the latter outweighed the former). But that doesn't mean that it wasn't the goal. In fact, I have seen but can't locate evidence that this was precisely the goal, such that there were contracts and stuff signed creating the Jerry Garcia Band as a legal entity co-owned by these four men (or, alternately, and I think just a bit later, by Garcia-Kahn-Tutt). But this is the pivotal moment. After a couple of day flirtation with another deeply troubled piano genius --The Bayou Maharajah hisself, James Booker-- Jerry defaults to the "comfort band" of Keith and Donna. After Nicky and Booker, Jerry would never again play with a keyboardist who was either good enough or empowered enough to push/challenge Garcia, to supply any kind of authoritative counterpoint to Jerry. And, indeed, one might make the argument that it wasn't until Garcia and Grisman came back together almost 15 years later that he would play with someone who really challenged him outside the GD. The JGB became a comfort band. (NB the historical coincidence of Garcia's alleged last time playing with Grisman before ca. 1990: ca. August 1975. Then the shit would hit the fan with OAITW [Grisman not getting paid, apparently], and they'd be estranged. Again, I think this episode reflects things going sour with Round, and or the perfidy of Ron Rakow, or both.)

So, 9/19/75 is early in the tenure of the first JGB, but how early? Conventional historiography lists "Jerry Garcia Band" shows on Tuesday, August 5, 1975 (Keystone, Berkeley) and Weds.-Thurs, August 20-21, 1975 (Great American Music Hall, SF). But Corry has me totally persuaded that these were Keith And Donna Band shows. I also commented there that there were listings for Nicky Hopkins and Nils Lofgren at least on the 20th. Given that we have rehearsals that have circulated for decades with dates such as 9/1/75, and everything else, I'd concur that these August JGB listings are spurious and that the JGB of Garcia-Kahn-Hopkins-Tutt began in September, with a first gig on Thursday, September 18, 1975 at Sophie's in Palo Alto [TJS | shnid 108270 (Robert Castelli aud)]. (That gig, the 9/19 Sacramento show, and the 9/20 hometown gig at River City in Fairfax [TJS | shnid 109216 (Castelli aud)] would also be consistent with the undeniable historical observation that Garcia and Kahn liked to break new players in "off the beaten path" before taking things to the Keystone, Berkeley.) So the Sacramento show that is the nominal subject (one might say pretext) of the post would have been the second public gig.


I'll reproduce a few of the pieces from TJS here, and comment on them.

DB's list 1: Let It Rock, You Win Again, All By Myself, Tough Mama, Mississippi Moon, Pig's Boogie. DB's list 2: Lady Sleeps-> No Time, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), I'll Take A Melody, Catfish John, Tequila, (I'm A) Road Runner, Edward.

This setlist looks absolutely characteristic. I wonder if the "Tequila" in the setlist indicates that they goofed on that song, or whether that was just Nicky asking for a drink (as he often did from onstage, most commonly, indeed, Tequila).

Corry, do you know where the DB setlist comes from?

TJS also added this note in late 2009:

An attendee notes the following about the show: "the band showed up about 90 minutes late for the show ... They called the venue from a pay phone to say they drove past Sacramento and were halfway to Reno before they realized their mistake. They were turning around and asked us to wait for them." The attendee also gave this account: "Seeing this quartet in Sacramento ... may have been my single most memorable show experience. It was a small venue with a small crowd, maybe twenty people out on the small dance floor in front of the band. ... The band came on late and obviously high and loose. After one sweet tune (I can't remember and have never seen a tape circulate) Hopkins was so moved he walked over and tearfully embraced Garcia. Then he turned and said that playing that kind of music was what he had wanted to do all of his life."
Sounds like a good old time. If that contributor or anyone else in attendance is reading this, can you please Comment? I am trying to figure out how late they started and anything more about the show. At some point, someone in the Sacto area needs to go through some papers and check on some dates. A lot of what we have is unsubstantiated, some dates may be wrong, and there may be others lurking around that we don't know about.

Anyway, a lot of buildup and circling around, not much payoff. But can anyone tell me more about this show? There's no tape in circulation.

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for the kind words. My knowledge of the Sacramento date would have come from McNally's list. However, for all my obsessing about dates, venues and band lineups, I never did anything with setlists. The source of the setlist would have been Stu Nixon, who compiled "Jerrybase" in Deadbase IX. Where he got it, I don't know.

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  2. A guy named Al Skinner bought out the original owners of Crabshaw's in 1973.

    Crabshaw’s Corner changed to Oasis Ballroom and then a hair salon. ...
    Nakamoto Productions moved it’s commercial audio studios into the same building that once housed Crabshaw Corner.

    I think I just found Mr. Skinner on FB. I'll report back if he responds.

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  3. After listening to Garcia rehearse with Booker, it is more than obvious that he is just plunking around. In fact, Booker is actually telling him what notes to play in one section...

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  4. Right, they are rehearsing. But they did go on to play two live gigs together, so they were "plunking around" with a purpose, at least.

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  5. I can tell you a little, as I was there. Crabshaw's is a very small bar. I don't remember whereabouts in Sacramento it was or anything about the neighborhood. What I remember most is that the stage was about 6 inches tall. I literally was standing in front of Jerry holding a beer. Could have reached out and touched him. When the beer was gone just walked back to the bar and got another then back in front of Jerry. If there was 200 people there I'd be surprised. The music was great but I don't remember specifics except for a really good little Adams Family interlude with Kahn sticking his leg straight out as he was prone to do several time. What fun. There may have been a Mystery Train and or a Roadrunner. There was at least two sets. Wish I could tell you more, but hey it was almost 40 years ago! I have no business remembering that much. As a side note, the first Legion of Mary show that I saw was in November 1974 at the South Coast Theatre in Laguna Beach. Jerry's Dixie made me cry. Right then I knew I was hooked on this band..... Hope that helps a little.

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    1. This makes no sense. Crabshaw Corner was not a "very small bar with a 6 inch stage". That sounds like Parapow Palace, about 10 blocks away.

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    2. Hmmm, well, I don't know what to say, except that memory can be a fickle thing.

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  6. This is so cool, thanks for sharing!

    Please tell me more about the Laguna Beach show? I have them at that venue on March 9, 1975, but not in November (off the top of my head). Got any stubs or a journal or ad clippings or anything?

    Regarding Crabshaw's ... very cool. Do you happen to recall if the show started late?

    One more: did you ever see any other Jerry gigs at Crabshaw's?

    Thanks again, anon.

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  7. I saw Garcia, Lesh, Lagin & Crosby perform as Seastones at The Palace Of Fine Arts S.F. 9/19/75.

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    1. Thank you for posting, Anonymous. That must be quite a venue. Can you share any recollections of the show? Of course I'd be even more pleased to hear that you took pictures or have a ticket stub!

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    2. My pleasure. It really is a beautiful place. No pictures or stubs. I remember this ornate hall packed with Deadheads! Jerry & Crosby were miked to sing and they were....It was Seastones so the vocals came out as a drone like murmur. Both Jerry & David were playing guitars but again it was Seastones. Phil had a Heiniken on top of his amp and at the end he said " It's not perfect, but were working on it". I know it was 9/19/75 as we drove directly to The Oakland Coliseum and slept in the vehicle as we had tickets for the Day On The Green with Johnny & Edgar Winter & Lynyrd Skynryd 9/20/75. Garcia base has Garcia in Sacto 9/19/75 - Seastones in the city and a quick cruise to Sac for a Garcia Band show? Anything is possible. Your thoughts?
      There were five live performances of Seastones: November 28, 1973, June 6, 1975, September 19, 1975, November 15, 1975, and November 22, 1975 - an excerpt from wikipedia - They must be referring to "stand alone" Seastone shows as they did a set many times in 74' with the Dead - JB

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    3. Cool! I love when there are other historical markers to help pin down the date.

      I do think JGB arriving late in Sacto on 9/19, per the quote in the post, could be because Jerry played Seastones at the Palace of Fine Arts. I guess one could drive through Sacto and into Auburn or wherever, but the idea that he got late out of the Bay Area is also consistent. What a contrast! From Seastones to Fats Domino (I am thinking of "All By Myself".)

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    4. I'll bet that's exactly what happened. Seastones to Edward The Madshirt Grinder! JB - Larkfield / Wikiup

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  8. Bill Vitt played in the Sacramento R&B scene in the 1960s. It was apparently quite happening. I suspect Corry knows, and probably has posted somewhere, about it.

    The fact that there's a setlist tells me that there's tape of the JGB show somewhere.

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  9. I am the original source of the Crabshaw account quoted above and it's just as I wrote it. About 30 minutes after the show was scheduled to start someone announced that Jerry had just called to say they had accidentally driven straight through Sacramento without noticing and didn't realize their mistake until they were halfway to Reno. (Sacramento freeway interchanges were notorious for confusing Big City folks.) The crowd moaned but then howled with delight when he said they were on their way back and to please wait. Maybe some left but I don't remember many doing so. When the band finally came onstage it seemed obvious from their red cheeks and wild-eyed facial expressions that they had had an hilariously good trip. Crabshaw's Corner was only briefly a show venue and the stage was one small riser off the floor. There were maybe 60-75 people in the bar, and room for only a dozen or so on the small dance floor in front of the band. For further info I can be reached via comet@well.com

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  10. Thanks for sharing your recollections! Great stuff.

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!Thank you for joining the conversation!